an eminent botanist, was born, in May 1810, at Ardentinny, Argyleshire,
on the west side of Loch Long, where his father, a native of Aberdeen,
was gardener to the earl of Dunmore. In 1816, his father removed to
Ardrossan, Ayrshire, having been appointed gardener there to the earl of
Eglinton. He received the rudiments of his education at the parish
school of that place, and he was afterwards placed at the grammar school
of Glasgow, his parents having gone to reside in that city in 1822.
After studying for the medical profession in the Andersonian university
and the university of Glasgow, he obtained his diploma as surgeon from
the faculty of physicians and surgeons of that city. He had early shown
a decided taste for the science of botany, and having discovered, in one
of his botanizing rambles in Stirlingshire, the rare Nuphar minima or
pulima, growing in the lake at Mugdock castle, he was introduced to Sir
William Jackson Hooker, then the distinguished professor of botany in
the university of Glasgow, whose botanical classes he subsequently
In 1836 Mr. Gardner
published a work entitled Musci Britannici, or Pocket Herbarium of
British Mosses, arranged and named according to Hookers British
Flora, This work was very favourably received, and a copy of it having
reached the duke of Bedford, he became a liberal patron, and subscribed
fifty pounds, to defray the expense of Mr. Gardners proceeding to North
Brazil, to explore the botanical riches of that luxuriant portion of
South America. In the summer of 1836, he sailed from Liverpool, and
arrived at Rio de Janeiro in July. He immediately began his
explorations, and in the course of his investigations he reached as far
north as the province of Goyaz, making frequent excursions to the Organ
mountains. He returned through the interior of Brazil to Rio, where, in
July 1841, he embarked for England. In his absence, several of his
papers and letters were inserted by Sir William J. Hooker, in the
Journal of Botany.
In 1842, he was elected
professor of botany in the Andersonian university, Glasgow, but did not
retain the appointment. In 1843, through the influence of Sir William J.
Hooker, who had previously become curator of the Royal Gardens at Kew,
he was appointed by the colonial government superintendent of the
Botanical Gardens at Ceylon. On his arrival, he made extensive
preparations for the completion of a flora of that island, and at his
death he left large collections towards a complete Flora Zeylonica.
During his botanical excursions in the island, he discovered, within a
few miles of Lornegall, the Upas tree, the celebrated poison-tree, which
was long believed to grow nowhere else than in Java. In 1846, he
published his Travels in the Interior of Brazil, principally through
the Northern Provinces and the Gold Districts during the years 1836-41,
London, 562 pages, 8vo.
While on a visit to Lord
Torrington, the governor of Ceylon, at Neuria Ellia Rest-House, the
sanitarium of the island, he was suddenly attacked by apoplexy, and died
in a few hours, 11th March 1849, in his 39th year. Amongst his numerous
manuscripts he left one ready for the press, designed as an elementary
work, on the botany of India.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.